Breaking up isn’t easy to do. Heartbreak is rough and mean and unruly. It sucks to be told that something hard is actually good for you, but in this case it might actually be true. If you tread these waters carefully, you will come out the beneficiary. To aid in this process I have compiled a little list of self-care tips that have helped me tremendously.
Pick Your Soundtrack
The first thing you need to do is go through your music collection. Don’t just move towards Morrissey because you think you are supposed to sit in your bedroom crying into your pillow and writing poetry. I think it is better if you turn away from depressing and look to angry or feisty. Jay-Z or Destiny’s Child. Pick one half of that couple and go from there. In general, I think ranting is more healing than moaning. And dancing is a lot better than curling up on the bed. Allot time in your day to dance and rant. It is good clean fun. And fun is good for you right now.
Some people can never really be alone. They set up the next relationship before they come out of the last so they never have to cope with any deep dark shit. Partners come and go, but that sack of bones you carry around isn’t going anywhere, until it is all over. When a relationship ends, it is a good idea to create space for yourself and be okay with being alone. That isn’t easy.
While I don’t think you need to be celibate, waking up alone is important. The morning sun comes through your window and there is nothing else but you, your mixed up dreams and the rest of the day ahead. Morning has a quality of softness to it that can allow you to sink into gratitude quickly. If there is always someone there, those feelings of tenderness towards the world can get directed towards the other person, which isn’t a bad thing. But if you have a broken heart, it is better to send those vines out and use that stillness to ask yourself what you can do to make your life and the people in it warm, rested and soft like that moment.
A young man recently recounted to me his journey through heartbreak one summer when his dream woman decided, respectfully, to go back to her ex. He found himself a few weeks later speaking to investors about an important project. Feeling overwhelmed, he excused himself and spent the next three minutes sobbing in the bathroom. After drying his eyes and putting on his bravest face, he walked back into the meeting. The investors asked if he was okay. And this man faced a decision: tell the truth or blame bad food. He took a deep breath and said, “I got my heart broken. I needed to cry.” The investors didn’t blink an eye. “Oh yeah, we heard you sobbing – the walls are paper thin around here. It is okay. Let’s get back to the project.”
We all get it. It is normal to be sad. It isn’t normal to behave as though you have moved on three seconds later. But what is more – if you pretend you are all there – you miss opportunities to connect. Allowing yourself to be brokenhearted or opening yourself up to have your heart broken creates connectivity. It forces you out of shame and into allowing yourself to change. This is the kind of change that stretches muscles and reads new books and thinks of new ideas and tries new things. It is not only okay to give a shit. It is really the only reason we were put on this watery rock.
The OC Divorce
When I suddenly found myself at the end of my marriage a very funny friend sent me a message. “Have you heard of the OC Divorce?” I hadn’t. “When women get their first divorce in the OC, it is like they won prom queen. They go all out: new wardrobe, new hairdo – they look amazing.” I thought that was the sagest piece of advice I had received. I think it is important to be sad, but I also think you might as well look good while you do it. You don’t need to spend like you live in the OC – paint your own nails, get a haircut, go to a clothing swap.
You might not feel like this now, but by going through this break up, you actually did win prom queen. You have been released, armed with knowledge and beauty into the world. There are so many better things waiting for you after your dumb-ass relationship. It is crazy.
You are free. Enjoy every awful beautiful moment.